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Excessive noise, though not an overtly harmful nuisance, can be tricky for cities to handle — and that includes the sounds made by weekend labor crews.

What’s a noise nuisance to one person might not bother a neighbor at all.

So while enforcing noise nuisance rules is not an exact science, cities such as Olmos Park, Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills each have slightly different criteria guiding their regulations.

For example, Alamo Heights’ ordinance does not specify decibel levels that are considered excessively loud.

“We do not use a decibel range as a determining factor for violations,” Police Chief Richard Pruitt said. “Instead, we try to respond to any reported noise nuisance without setting parameters on an individual’s tolerances or special needs. Officers have been very successful in resolving most noise nuisances through a personal contact at the source without resorting to enforcement measures.”

On the other hand, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park both have ordinances that address specific decibel levels.

Terrell Hills defines a noise nuisance as any noise that exceeds 63 decibels in its residential or semicommercial zones.

In Olmos Park, over 85 decibels is considered too loud.

Some experts say prolonged exposure to sounds 70 decibels or higher can range from irritation to outright hearing loss. Rock concerts and chainsaws often register at 110 decibels; a police siren is 120.

Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Terrell Hills also all have slightly different ordinances governing outside work/noise on weekdays and weekends by laborers, such as yard men, landscapers, tree crews and construction workers.

In Olmos Park, construction activities are permitted weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Olmos Park also allows construction 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills don’t allow construction work on weekends or city holidays, unless approved for special cases.

“There’s no construction work on the weekends or holidays,” Terrell Hills City Manager Greg Whitlock said.

Each of these cities do allow yard maintenance and landscaping on weekdays and weekends.

However, both Terrell Hills and Alamo Heights have ordinances that specifically address the use of gas-powered equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers.

In Terrell Hills, the devices are restricted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. In Alamo Heights, they are prohibited before 10 a.m. on weekends and city-observed holidays.

Olmos Park’s ordinance doesn’t specifically address gas-powered leaf blowers or lawn-equipment use on weekends, but the issue came before City Council during a meeting in February 2015.

“What has come to my attention from several concerned residents is the gas-powered leaf blowers that have a decibel of 85, but actually averages between 95 and 102 decibels and these lawn services are turning these leaf blowers on at 7 a.m. on Saturdays. I understand the lawn services want to get started early and get done early and tackle as many lawns as possible, but it seems like it is very disruptive to someone who is trying to enjoy their Saturday morning.” — Councilman Casey Fry

Fry discussed alerting Olmos Park residents through an email blast to ask homeowners to “convince their lawn crews to start at a later hour.”

“This is an ongoing nuisance and I continue to get complaints from residents,” Fry said during the session.

Olmos Parks Public Works Director Gilbert DeLeon said he spoke to about “10-12 yard men to see if it was possible that they start working at 9 a.m. and they all said, ‘Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills have asked us the same thing and we understand,’ and it was no problem. As of now it seems to be working.”

When residents and others have complaints on the weekend, the cities’ police departments handle those.

“Olmos Park code compliance officers do not work on the weekends. However, our Police Department can issue code violation citations as needed,” DeLeon said.

The fines for noise nuisances in Olmos Park can reach up to $500.

In Alamo Heights, “Police officers are dispatched to all noise nuisance complaints, including violations of prohibited hours/days of construction regardless of day of week or time of day,” Pruitt said.

“Convictions for noise nuisance violations could result in fines up to $500,” he added.

The Terrell Hills Police Department “handles all code violations, 24/7,” Whitlock said. “Fines can range from $10 to $200.”

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